Suozzi beats Haber in Democratic executive primary

Dan Glaun And Bill San Antonio

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (Glen Cove) has earned a rematch against incumbent County Executive Ed Mangano (R-Bethpage), handily defeating Roslyn businessman Adam Haber in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary.

Suozzi, who campaigned with the support of the Democratic party establishment and several major unions, took 58 percent of the votes to Haber’s 41 percent, according to unofficial results from the county board of elections.

Tuesday’s voting marked an end to an asymmetrical primary race that saw Haber’s self-funded outsider campaign repeatedly target Suozzi’s record in office, while Suozzi kept his sights on a November matchup with Mangano.

Haber’s endorsement this summer by the Liberal party could still cast a shadow over the general election, with Haber possessing the option of appearing on a third party line on November’s ballot.

But a source close to the Suozzi campaign told Blank Slate Media he expects Haber to endorse Suozzi, and the two candidates are scheduled to discuss the next phase of the campaign at a meeting Thursday.

Any concerns about a third-party challenge were in the background at Suozzi’s high-spirited primary results party in his home town of Glen Cove, where he arrived to a room of cheering supporters shortly before 11:00 p.m. and a half-hour later declared victory.

“[Mangano’s] policies of spending and spending and spending, and borrowing and borrowing and borrowing, are bankrupting Nassau County. It’s hurting us, it’s going to hurt our children, it’s going to hurt our grandchildren. We must beat him in November,” Suozzi said.

Suozzi was flanked by Democratic party leader Jay Jacobs, legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (Hempstead), county comptroller candidate Howard Weitzman and other party figures, who he thanked for their support.

Suozzi’s victory was the culmination of months of effort from Jacobs.

Suozzi spent the years since his razor’s-edge loss to Mangano in 2009 practicing corporate law for Harris Beach and announced his candidacy in February after conversations with Jacobs and other Democratic leaders.

Haber, who has loaned his campaign millions of dollars and recently picked up an endorsement from Hempstead-based civil rights attorney Fred Brewington, refused to clear the field for Suozzi, launching the primary campaign that featured a televised debate earlier this month.

“[Democratic party leaders] knew that we needed the best and strongest candidate at the top of the ticket. The drums began to beat, the call went out and we said we need Tom Suozzi,” Jacobs said as he introduced the nominee.

In his concession speech, Haber said he would continue to advocate on behalf of all of his supporters, particularly those living within the areas of Nassau County known as the “Corridor” – comprised of Lakeview, Hempstead, Roosevelt, Uniondale, Freeport and New Cassel – which he said are typically underrepresented in county government.

“I love the fact that you can change the discussion by showing up, by bringing issues that usually aren’t talked about that are glossed over, and I will continue doing that and that’s going to be part of the conversation,” Haber said. “Everybody who’s here tonight, my friends, family, people I love dearly, from the bottom of my heart thank you for believing in me, I will continue to believe in you.”

The Suozzi-Mangano race is likely to feature conflicting assertions on the county’s fiscal record.

Mangano has attacked Suozzi for raising taxes, Suozzi has criticized Mangano for raising fees and both candidates have accused the other of inflating Nassau’s debt.

“With over 13,000 Democrats rejecting Tom Suozzi, we look forward to debating Suozzi’s record of hiking property taxes by 23 percent and leaving behind a record $3.45 billion in debt,” wrote Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin in a statement reacting to Suozzi’s primary win.

Dozens of Suozzi supporters filled the Polish National Home in Glen Cove Tuesday night, with campaign staff, party officials and voters mingling as they awaited Suozzi’s entrance. Backers watched News 12 coverage projected onto a large screen, with cheers echoing as Suozzi spoke in a taped interview and scattered boos when Haber was mentioned.

The crowd turned raucous when Suozzi entered the hall, with supporters holding signs and chanting his name as Suozzi spoke into waiting television cameras. Suozzi, who has acknowledged taking the campaign for granted in 2009, pledged to work as hard as possible to win votes in November.

Haber greeted voters on Primary Day, first outside the Great Neck train station and later at the Long Island Railroad stop in Hicksville.

At around 9:30 a.m., Haber and his wife cast their ballots at East Hills Village Hall before making one more round of phone calls to Nassau voters from his campaign office in Freeport.

Haber arrived at his campaign’s viewing party at OB2 Jazz Lounge in Hempstead at about 9:30 p.m. to chants of “Ad-am! Ad-am!” He shook hands with supporters as he made his way to the party room, his wife Renee trailing behind.

The party followed News 12’s coverage of the Democratic primary on every television at the lounge, booing each time Suozzi’s image appeared on the network.

At the conclusion of Haber’s speech, a supporter standing on stage with him yelled out, “Haber 2017!,” which was met with cheers and whistles from the crowd who stayed with the candidate to the very end.

“It’s clear that people want their voices heard, they want to be respected, they want to be included,” Haber said. “There’s a lot of issues that we’re going to work out and I’m going to be here, as I was before, I’ll be here during, and I’ll continue to be part of a community I’m grateful to be part of and thank you for opening your arms.”

Ron Rovner, 50, of Greenvale, said he supported Haber because “he’s the smartest guy I know” who “follows through on all of his promises,” adding that a re-match between Suozzi and Mangano would ultimately hurt Nassau in the future.

“It would mean the same position we’re in now, nothing would change,” Rovner said. “Let me put it to you this way: If I have to choose between Suozzi and Mangano, I’d have to pick the person I think is going to do the least amount of damage, not the most good, and that’s a shame.”

In the Conservative Party primary for Town of Hempstead Clerk, newly installed incumbent Nasrin Ahmad trounced challenger Patricia Basso-Friedman, drawing 656 votes – 81.39 percent – to 148 votes, representing 18.36 percent of votes cast.

The Town of Hempstead board selected Ahmad to replace Mark Bonilla one week before the primary. Bonilla had been removed from office by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month after Bonilla’s conviction on a charge of misconduct in July.

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Dan Glaun And Bill San Antonio

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